Tuesday, April 19, 2016
An Awkward Old Swan
Lying in bed this morning, I envisioned a beautiful swan gliding down to the surface of a lake expecting a smooth landing. As the graceful bird neared the water, her wings began to waver. In a matter of moments, the feathers and body parts flailed in all directions and the swan somersaulted across the surface, water splashing. Once the momentum stopped, the swan regained her composure, looking around to see what went wrong.
Growing up, I was a lonely child who watched the world from inside a box. I speculated on other people's lives and studied them. As I grew into a teenager, I determined how I wanted my life as an adult and parent. The world was my classroom, teaching me what type of worker and parent I wanted to be when I entered the world. After I graduated from high school, I left home with confidence that I would tackle the world, much like a beautiful, graceful swan. In many ways, I did just that for the first twenty years of my life. Sure, I had some struggles. I would then turn into the ornery, stubborn goose to get the job done. This past year, I have been the squeaker dummy duck trainer for Labrador dogs. I have been tossed into the water and retrieved back to the bank by the big slobbery dog of life. Where did I go wrong?
I stopped studying. As I conquered parenthood, the workplace, and life in general, I didn't pay attention to the relationships of adult children and their parents. I didn't pay attention to good parents swimming through the deep waters of mental illness. Thus, when my oldest son introduced me to his fiancé in the middle of my daughter wanting to die, I didn't land in the pond gracefully. I had never imagined that I would be making trips to the emergency room keeping my baby safe while trying to figure out what it meant to be a mother-in-law. And frankly, the hospital, therapist, and psychiatrist visits took precedence.
Now with my sick child healing, I have been working on my lack of grace as a new mother-in-law. I am also facing the title of grandmother. In the past, I never really thought of that job title either. My son's beautiful wife gave him four older children to add to the family. Since I have never paid attention to the dynamic of adult children, daughter-in-laws and step grandchildren, I am left uncertain about my place in this new life I find myself. I am not prepared. Fortunately, I love to study.
I have never read a parenting book before the year 2015. Since then, I have read multiple books about adult children and children with mental illness. I even found a book about daughters-in-law that I devoured. I still haven't found one about step grandchildren. I will keep looking.
God has graced me with amazing "elders" in my life. I have a couple of ladies who listen, suggest, guide, and love me through my trials. My husband has faith filled men in his life who have "been there, done that" and help us know we are not alone. I keep being reminded that we are all in this pot of messy soup called life.
What have I learned? …I know nothing. I am not very good at this stage of my life. God still loves me as an awkward old swan who messes things up with her children. Even in all the difficulty, I know I am doing the best I can and I am trying to let God mold me into a new person. I will also confess, my cantankerous old goose side does get in the way, but you know, I love the old goose in me. Though I will try to be the swan, with a wing in a cast from the terrible landings, I won't roast the goose. God made me in all my forms for a reason. Someday I will know the reason why. Until then, I will continue to pray and learn.